Brighten your garden in autumn by adding some wonderful plants with bold colour! Plants like asters, chrysanthemums, dainty violas, cyclamen, and pansies (and more) will put life back into your beds and containers. The days are shortening in autumn, and are getting a bit duller, so the bolder the better and the more vibrant colours will provide the maximum impact. You would be surprised to learn how many of the nation’s favourite and most popular flowers are hardy enough to last well into the start of winter.
With our compiled list of 20 plants for autumn interest you will be adding bold and vibrant colour to your garden in no time.
Hydrangeas, specifically the extremely popular Paniculata variety, have gorgeous large conical pinkish-white flowerheads. These flowers can add quite a bit of impact to a garden, given they typically grow from eight to twenty feet tall (if not maintained), and are quite wide too. Further into autumn/winter they should become pinker in colour. Being quite cold-hardy, Hydrangea Paniculata should persist well into winter, and are able to endure even bitingly cold temperatures. They love sun, and don’t mind partial shade, but need a well-drained soil to flower best. As a bonus, they are generally reliable bloomers and you should see them begin to bud again when spring comes around. You could plant this one as a centrepiece surrounded by other colourful but smaller shrubs.
Sedum isn’t also known as ‘Autumn Joy’ without good reason. These star-shaped flowers are a beautiful rose-pink colour that matures into a dusty-red colour further into autumn. A perfect colour compliment to the season and a must if you love autumn tones. Sedums are quite hardy and drought tolerant but need well-drained soil and full-sun or slightly shaded areas to flower well. Once established, Sedum plants don’t require that much care. Being a perennial plant, the roots don’t die over winter meaning the plant will come back the following year too. Result!
Vibrant Cyclamen are perfect for adding strong colour to your garden for the autumn and winter months. Cyclamen come in a variety of colours; burgundy, burgundy flame, cheerful mixed, dark pink, harmony mixed, purple, red and white. They’re quite small yet particularly hardy, often flowering when almost nothing else can in winter. They ideal for under trees or in shaded areas. Because of their size Cyclamen can be planted in decorative bowls or hanging baskets which makes it easier to move anywhere in the garden in need of brightening up.
Photinia Carre Rouge
This shrub is perfect for any garden. It is quite easy to grow, evergreen and brightly coloured shades of red, making it a great option for contrast to the usual garden colours. It’s a perfect plant in beds or used as borders. The Photinia Carre Rouge is smaller and more compact than other varieties of Photinia, and this makes it a great addition to smaller gardens. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade and needs a well-drained soil. It will also do well in a pot or container for placement on a patio or perhaps a balcony area.
One of the most popular plants around, the colourful pansy/viola is perfect for adding colour to your garden over autumn. Their small sturdy stature makes them perfect for bedding areas, and this characteristic also helps them to resist heavier rains and stronger winds. They are so rich and bright in colour, ranging from purple to blue to red, orange, yellow, burgundy, and lots more in between. Wonderfully fragrant too, many pansies/violas have a lovely sweet scent. Pansies like the sun but will do quite well in semi-shaded areas too. Ensure the soil is well-drained too. If you want an array of colour that lasts well into winter, then consider these. They are a perfect option for hanging baskets and containers too.
Chrysanthemums really come into their own in the autumn months. Large flowered and richly colourful, they’ll add colour to the garden when other areas are drab and fading. Chrysanthemum colours generally range from reds, pinks, yellows and oranges and as they grow form appealing dome-like shapes, which also makes them a particularly nice flower for pots. They are quite easy to grow, and hardy too, doing well in all but the harshest of weather conditions. They will flower best in full sun, with a well-drained soil. They need a bit of their own space however, as other earlier flowing plants can easily smother them until they are well-established.
Rhododendron Bloombux is a hardy and easy to grow evergreen shrub that grows clusters of beautiful pink flowers. They generally can grow up to 1 metre tall and spread to 1 metre also. It responds extremely well to pruning so it makes for a fabulous looking hedge or border plant. Bloombux flower well in full sun but will tolerate partial shade and needs a well-drained soil too. It’s quite the hardy little plant and will continue to provide colour through winter too until it flowers again in the spring.
Hebe or ‘Autumn Glory’ is a very hardy evergreen shrub that offers brightly coloured foliage and white, lical or deep purple flowers throughout autumn. The great thing about Hebes are that they are easy to grow and really low maintenance. They’ll flower best in full sun positions but can tolerate lightly shaded areas. Plant in moist but well-drained soil too which does not suffer from waterlogging. They have a low nutrient requirement and rarely suffer from pests or diseases unless they are really neglected. Hebes are versatile plants that also do will in a patio pot or container so you can place them in areas that need brightening up.
There are many different species of Anemones but for beautiful colour opt for Japanese Anemones. The flowers can vary from the purest of white to very deep pinks, and their tall, elegant stems give off a real sense of sophistication to any border. Another wonderful feature of anemones is that they close their petals at night and open them again in the morning. This is said to reflect the anticipation of something and the passing of time. Anemones will bloom from late summer to early autumn which means they’re great for stunning autumnal arrangements.
Heather Garden Girls
Heather Garden Girls are a hardy, very colourful, and low-growing evergreen shrub. They come in a variety of colours; shades of red, pink, and white, and are a fantastic way to make your garden more colourful. You might have seen these growing on heathlands and moorlands particularly in late summer/early autumn. Because their flower buds don’t fully open, they are more resistant to worsening weather conditions, and so provide a long-lasting display of colour. Heather garden girls enjoy a sunny position and a well-drained soil. This is an easy one to grow if you need a low-maintenance colour injection. Since they’ll only grow to a maximum height of around 30cm they are quite suited to pot or container planting too.
If you like bold pink colours, Nerine are for you. They can make for quite the statement flower and would be a lovely sight on a bright autumnal morning. Nerines are relatively long-lasting and save the best of their display generally until September, sometimes later, which makes them a great choice of autumn flower. Nerines require a well-draining soil, but it should not be nutrient rich as the flower does better in poorer soils; in fact, if the soil is nutrient rich it will encourage leaves to grow rather than their lovely bright flowers. They will need a very sunny patch, ideally full sun, or very slightly shaded. They won’t flower well at all in shaded areas. Nerines are hardy too and should last into the first frosts of winter. They’re a suitable flower for pots too.
The Crab Apple is a great option because it’s a compact tree that produces lots of colourful fruits among the foliage, and even little yellow, red or orange crab apples for months that just look wonderful on the branches. The fruits can even be harvested to eat but they’re very tart. They can be cooked or better still used in james and jellies. Or they can be left for the local wildlife. Because it’s compact it makes it a good option where space is limited.
Cotoneasters are great as ground cover shrubs and even small trees giving lots of autumnal interest with its beautiful displays of red berries against dark green foliage. If you like wildlife this is a great option because it will attract lots of pollinators late in summer and the birds love to eat the berries that are produced well into the autumn.
Asters are another great choice to inject some colour in your garden. Asters tend to form dense bushy growths of flower heads with a yellow which makes for a ‘blanket’ of colour. They come in a variety of colours, but the classic lilac shades with a bright yellow centre are the most recognisable. Asters like full sun, or partial shade if just in the morning for example. A fairly hardy plant, it will require a well-drained soil again, not susceptible to waterlogging. Because it’s a fairly bushy plant it will also smother any nearby weeds nicely (giving something back to you – win, win). Certain varieties do better than others in pots, so make sure to check this beforehand.
Aptly named for its delicate multi-petalled white downward drooping flowers. Snowdrops are hardy and offer a striking bloom in the colder months when little else is growing. To successfully flower, snowdrops need a position that offers light shade in the garden and are not fussy about specific soil types but do need a moist but well-drained soil. Planting in borders and beds near taller shrubs and trees is a good position for them.
Hesperantha are semi-evergreen perennials with narrow sword-shaped leaves and lovely delicate star or bowl-shaped flowers that are shades of red or pink in colour. They will typically bloom from late summer well into the autumn even into winter, blooming until regular frosts arrive. It’s best grown in clumps and isn’t very tall. It’s quite hardy too so it makes for a good easy to manage space filler at the side or in front of a larger shrub or tree that acts as the main focal point of the area. Just ensure the soil is moist but well-draining. The bees and other pollinators love the flowers too.
Helianthus is a great plant that can reach up to two metres tall, producing lemon-yellow flowers with darker centres above dark green foliage from late summer well into autumn. They’re a great option for pollinators late in the season too which is a good bonus to their stunningly vibrant colour. The ‘Lemon Queen’ variety has been called a showstopper on many an occasion.
Get Planting for Instant Autumn Impact
With this list of autumn flowering shrubs and trees you can enjoy a stunning garden with vibrant colour and interest even when summer has passed. Many of these plants will last well into late autumn, some even into winter, so you’ll have a lovely display in the garden to enjoy for months. Choose your autumn flowers, prepare the ground and plant early (late August or early September but check your chosen plants’ own requirements), and you’ll be all set to enjoy a wonderfully colourful autumnal bloom throughout your garden.